It was baking hot last weekend wasn’t it and we had a full day planned having fun at Countryfile Live, which was once again being held in the grounds of Blenheim Palace. We packed our water bottles, slapped on the sun cream and headed off to one of our favourite annual family events.
This is the third year that Countryfile Live has been held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, and also our third year of attending. We know the grounds well as we are frequent visitors to the Palace and the event really does have something to offer for all the family.
We did have big plans for all the things we wanted to cover on our day out, but I’ll be up front, it was incredibly hot and Daddy P was struggling a bit so by lunchtime we decided to concentrate on areas where we didn’t need to do much walking around. But even so, we arrived as the gates opened and left as they were closing, so we still filled our day, and all left happy.
I knew I’d struggle to persuade my son to join in with the water sports (top tip for next year – if you want to try canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding or have a go at fishing, then make a beeline for the Riverside as these free activities get booked up very quickly). Whilst my son couldn’t be convinced to try something new, he loves watching everyone else having a go, and it’s a beautiful spot to stop and watch the fun.
This area is also where you can find the Wildlife Zone with a lot of the nature activities and our favourites include caterpillar spotting with Butterfly Conservation and looking at the bees.
It’s become a bit of a tradition now for my son, that having fun at Countryfile Live has to include making a beeswax candle. Our third year was no different, and he was thrilled to discover he could make a red beeswax candle this year.
We had hoped to have a ride on the Hot Air Balloon but it didn’t seem to be available when we were there, but other’s had seen it working earlier in the weekend. Something for next year.
In this area you can also try the zip wire, and be taken on an 4×4 off-roading experience. We decided to give the drive a miss this year but opted to walk the Country Mile instead. The walk takes you further into the Palace grounds and at one point you have a wonderful view of the rear of Blenheim Palace itself, before turning back into the Countryfile Live area.
This year the BBC Countryfile programme celebrates its 30th birthday, and I’ve probably been watching the show pretty much from the start. I can certainly remember John Craven joining the team! The show is a family favourite and thanks to the blog, my son and I even appeared on the show a few years ago, along with the Gruffalo. We got to meet Ellie on that day and since then my son has been a hug fan. We also got some help with our den building from Adam Henson when we went on a bush crafting day. So it’s far to say, that for us, seeing the presenters and listening to their talks is a large part of our day. This year probably more than ever, as we spent a large chunk of the afternoon sitting in the Countryfile Experience, because it was just too hot to walk any further. We got to listen to all the presenters there as well as listening to Ellie talking in the Big Barn.
It’s very rare that I ever do a selfie with anyone other than my son, but when I had the opportunity to have a photo taken with the legend that is John Craven, even I wasn’t going to say no. I’m 50 and watched Newsround avidly as a child, as does my 8 year old son now. I hope my son grows up with the same fond memories as I have.
It was good to know that free drinking water stations had been in put in place this year, these did however have long queues and weren’t obviously signed, so a couple of areas for improvement for the future but still a welcome addition. We discovered a little used water tap with no queues so we were sorted for the day without any issues.
You definitely don’t starve when having fun at Countryfile Live, there’s so much choice of things to eat, as well as all the stalls selling produce. I had hoped to do a bit more exploring around this area this year, but it never quite happened, so something else for next year! We did enjoy some lovely pulled pork with tortilla and salad and my son had quite possibly the largest sausage known to man, it kept him quiet for ages. A cheeky ice cream may well have been eaten in the afternoon sunshine too.
Other favourites for us include Adam’s Farm with all the livestock and demonstrations. This year we saw Adam at his book signing too, along with a talk about sheep farming. There’s a petting area and plenty to keep children amused.
My son has long been obsessed with farm machinery so the Farming in Action area is always a must see part of our time when having fun at Countryfile Live. We got to see the old and the new and then watched the Kubota display in the main arena.
This year we didn’t get to watch any of the other displays in the central arena or in the dog lovers area. We do love watching the Stihl Timbersports Stage, but this year watched on from afar under the shade of a tree. My son isn’t really a fan of fun fairs so we didn’t enter that area, but it looked popular. Next year I’m determined to mingle amongst the different stalls in the shopping village and see more of the food stalls.
But we left feeling happy that we may have walked less than in previous years, but we’d still seen loads and had a full day out.
Having fun at Countryfile Live means we’ve already got the dates for 2019 in our diary.
Did you visit this year?